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1 hour ago, Thorny said:

We may not be better than last year if the OP has the correct lines

I think Olofsson ends up on the top line but what you propose looks a ton better imo than the lineup first proposed in the thread. 

It's going to be interesting to see how the the top two lines are configurated. Although my preference is for Reinhart to play on the top line and Olofsson on the second line switching the two players on the lines also makes sense. One big issue for me associated with assembling the lines is the necessity of piecing together a line that will put Skinner in a position to succeed. If Skinner can return to his scoring form with an enhancing winger on the opposite side, whoever that is, then that is what I'm for. I like Krueger as a coach. However, it appeared to me that Krueger was not enamored with Skinner's game and was stubborn about not playing him with Jack last year when that change might have helped him to get on track. 

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If I were coaching the Sabres...

Hall - Eichel - Reinhart

Skinner - Staal - Olofsson

Eakin - Cozens- Thompson

Girgensons - Mitts - Okposo 

Mitts would play if he deserves to.

Edited by Ducky
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4 minutes ago, JohnC said:

It's going to be interesting to see how the the top two lines are configurated. Although my preference is for Reinhart to play on the top line and Olofsson on the second line switching the two players on the lines also makes sense. One big issue for me associated with assembling the lines is the necessity of piecing together a line that will put Skinner in a position to succeed. If Skinner can return to his scoring form with an enhancing winger on the opposite side, whoever that is, then that is what I'm for. I like Krueger as a coach. However, it appeared to me that Krueger was not enamored with Skinner's game and was stubborn about not playing him with Jack last year when that change might have helped him to get on track. 

The bold is the part I disagreed with. Skinner averaged 17:30 a game over the first two months of the season. Ralph played him a ton. This included an 11-game stretch in November where he scored one goal and one assist and was -10.

After he came back from his injury it was a different story. Jeff wasn't playing well and Ralph certainly resisted the idea of putting him on the first line to get him going.

I think Ralph didn't want to play him with Eichel initially because he believed that Jeff was the player best equipped to provide scoring from the second line.

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18 minutes ago, dudacek said:

The bold is the part I disagreed with. Skinner averaged 17:30 a game over the first two months of the season. Ralph played him a ton. This included an 11-game stretch in November where he scored one goal and one assist and was -10.

After he came back from his injury it was a different story. [b]Jeff wasn't playing well and Ralph certainly resisted the idea of putting him on the first line to get him going.[/b]

I think Ralph didn't want to play him with Eichel initially because he believed that Jeff was the player best equipped to provide scoring from the second line.

Based on his first year with us and his career with Carolina it was apparent that JS was a prolific goal scorer. From a scoring standpoint he was struggling on a team that was challenged to score. I still believe that it would have been a good move to put him on the Jack line, even for a temporary stint, just to get him going. I agree with you that Krueger played him on another line in order to get more scoring from another line. But I think that it would have helped the team more by putting him on a line that would have put him in a better position to score. 

The one thing that I don't want to happen as some have suggested is putting Skinner on a third line in order to spread the scoring and upgrade the third line. I strongly believe that getting Skinner back into his usual scoring form is an imperative for this team to do well. And that will more likely be accomplished if he is playing on one of the top two lines and with players who promote his best talent i.e. scoring goals.

side note: How do I highlight sections? It seems after the upgrade that the usual highlighting technique doesn't work.

Edited by JohnC
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1 hour ago, Thorny said:

^ If I had my way I'd go:

Hall - Eichel - Olofsson

Skinner - Staal - Reinhart

Thompson - Eakin - Cozens

Girgensons - Lazar - Okposo

..as I think that moves it from an all world top line to a potential all world top 6. I really like that top 6 and the matchups a Skinner-Reinhart pairing on line 2 could lead to. 

It's less balanced than the other lines I proposed but if Eakin is reasonable at 3C I think the F could be something special. 

That's basically what I've been expecting since they picked up Hall.

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3 hours ago, dudacek said:

If Cozens and Thompson can be solid middle-six players, I agree with the bold.

That top six is special; IMO two first lines.

I'm less concerned about Eakin than most seem to be. He's the 80th highest scoring centre in the NHL over his career. Even with his terrible year last year, he's 93rd over the past three. He's almost the definition of a 3rd line centre.

 

 

Well it's a trend he needs to reverse. 93rd puts him at a top level 4C, and last season he'd be below even that.

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2 hours ago, dudacek said:

The bold is the part I disagreed with. Skinner averaged 17:30 a game over the first two months of the season. Ralph played him a ton. This included an 11-game stretch in November where he scored one goal and one assist and was -10.

After he came back from his injury it was a different story. Jeff wasn't playing well and Ralph certainly resisted the idea of putting him on the first line to get him going.

I think Ralph didn't want to play him with Eichel initially because he believed that Jeff was the player best equipped to provide scoring from the second line.

^ And without a proper centre, and probably even with, I think Ralph was wrong on that front - I think it's Reinhart.

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2 hours ago, LGR4GM said:

I don't think Olofsson is good enough for top line 5v5 minutes. 

I kinda feel the same way, but that's the luxury of Jack - especially with another potential all-world level player on his left - I think even though VO may not technically be "ready" for that spot on the right, it may still be the way our team is best maximized. 

I actually think he'd be more likely to hurt us if he was further down the lineup and being counted on for more. With JE and TH he shouldn't have to play much D and he can solely be a finisher.

IMO he absolutely needs to be with Jack or Eric and my thought is we'd unlock more from Reinhart asking him to do more on line 2. No question Reinhart helps Jack, and maybe he ends up on his wing, but it's sorta the reverse-Larsson where we could probably ask him to bear a larger load. 

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1 hour ago, Thorny said:

Well it's a trend he needs to reverse. 93rd puts him at a top level 4C, and last season he'd be below even that.

He's had a weird career:

Five seasons of between 35 and 40 points (prorating the lockout), plus a 27-point year.

And two seasons where he missed a fair amount of time and put up 12 and 15 points.

The six seasons he's been healthy he's been very consistent and averaged nearly a point every 2 games.

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Hall/Eichel/??? is going to tilt the ice toward the opposing goal. The thought of VO with his L shot on RW and those quick one-timers is enticing.

Skinner/Staal/Reinhart is just a nightmare line to the opposing coaches. 60 game season and I could see Jeff and Sam with point a game seasons, or more.

Third line is the unknown to me. Lots of possibilities and who wants to show they are ready to play. This line could be The Who is Hot/Who is healthy line.

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3 hours ago, LGR4GM said:

I don't think Olofsson is good enough for top line 5v5 minutes. 

Meaning our top unit will tend to be a minus at even strength matched up against the other team's best players?

I think I'm with Thorny on this one, its the spot where our overall forward talent is best maximized  I tend to think Victor is wasted if he's not playing with people who can get him the puck in scoring position. I also think Victor and Skinner are a poor combination on the second line. And, while he's certainly no Stamkos or Marchand, he stacks up just fine against Hyman, Tatar, Bertuzzi, Dadanov and Hornqvist on the other first lines in the division

Here's another one to consider: we have no idea what kind of chemistry Eichel and Hall will have. We're all hoping it's Mogilny/Lafontaine 2.0 but if it doesn't work we know Skinner/Eiche/Reinhart is an elite group What about Hall/Staal/Olofsson? Hall can certainly feed him.

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10 hours ago, dudacek said:

 

I think I'm with Thorny on this one, its the spot where our overall forward talent is best maximized  I tend to think Victor is wasted if he's not playing with people who can get him the puck in scoring position. I also think Victor and Skinner are a poor combination on the second line. And, while he's certainly no Stamkos or Marchand, he stacks up just fine against Hyman, Tatar, Bertuzzi, Dadanov and Hornqvist on the other first lines in the division

I agree. The thing about Eichel or most other great players is, he can lift up lesser players to a higher level.  Olofsson with Eichel seems to have the ability to have his game impacted by Eichel more than Sam does. Not saying he would be a better player with Eichel than Sam would be...just Sam wont take as much of a 'step back' on a 2nd line and Olofsson would.

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11 hours ago, dudacek said:

He's had a weird career:

Five seasons of between 35 and 40 points (prorating the lockout), plus a 27-point year.

And two seasons where he missed a fair amount of time and put up 12 and 15 points.

The six seasons he's been healthy he's been very consistent and averaged nearly a point every 2 games.

I guess it comes down to the prism you want to view the numbers through. 

Bold sounds pretty good, but another way of looking at it is, he's failed to exceed 27 points in 3 of the last 4 years (12, 27, 41, 15) averaging 24 points over that span. Prorating for the lockout and leaving out his 30 game rookie year like I believe you did in the analysis, he averaged 38 points over the 4 years previous. 

So it's more like a tale of two halves, with a significant tail-off in the most recent 4 years save that one outlier. It's not a great trend, that's not to say he can't buck it, but it must be bucked. 

11 hours ago, irregularly irregular said:

Hall/Eichel/??? is going to tilt the ice toward the opposing goal. The thought of VO with his L shot on RW and those quick one-timers is enticing.

Skinner/Staal/Reinhart is just a nightmare line to the opposing coaches. 60 game season and I could see Jeff and Sam with point a game seasons, or more.

Third line is the unknown to me. Lots of possibilities and who wants to show they are ready to play. This line could be The Who is Hot/Who is healthy line.

Yup.

11 hours ago, dudacek said:

Meaning our top unit will tend to be a minus at even strength matched up against the other team's best players?

I think I'm with Thorny on this one, its the spot where our overall forward talent is best maximized  I tend to think Victor is wasted if he's not playing with people who can get him the puck in scoring position. I also think Victor and Skinner are a poor combination on the second line. And, while he's certainly no Stamkos or Marchand, he stacks up just fine against Hyman, Tatar, Bertuzzi, Dadanov and Hornqvist on the other first lines in the division

Here's another one to consider: we have no idea what kind of chemistry Eichel and Hall will have. We're all hoping it's Mogilny/Lafontaine 2.0 but if it doesn't work we know Skinner/Eiche/Reinhart is an elite group What about Hall/Staal/Olofsson? Hall can certainly feed him.

I honestly think there's a reasonable chance Eichel and Hall don't mesh the way we'd want them to - it's never a sure thing, even (and sometimes especially) with star players. If that's the case, the first thing I'd try is simply switching Hall and Skinner, if VO is in the top 6 I think I want him with Eichel. Eichel is a great player and he's going to have another great (or very good) one on his left, Hall or Skinner. I want line 2 to have 2 as well, and Staal to me doesn't qualify. So I'm looking for Staal to be complemented with 2 solid ES wingers. Additionally, I have an aversion to all left-shot or all right-shot lines. 

Skinner - Eichel - Olofsson

Hall - Staal - Reinhart

...again, we could be looking at an elite top 6 and a second line among (at the top?) of the league's best. I'm all for loading up line 2 and letting MVP Jack run along on line 1 with one strong, complimentary player, and a gizmo player on the other side (VO). 

Eichel's passing is maximized with 2 finishers, and I don't think that line set-up prevents him from getting his shots, either. Set up VO as a threat and he draws coverage and opens shooting lanes for JE, and Skinner's scoring wheelhouse is off rebounds anyways, so Jack is going to have to get pucks to the doorstep.

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There are just so many variables with this forward group.

  • We have two legitimate drivers who can play with anyone: Hall and Eichel
  • We have two well-rounded top-six forwards who can support elite players and elevate middle-six players in Staal and Reinhart
  • We have two 30-goal finishers, both of whom need defensive support, one of whom thrives in chaos (Skinner), the other in structure (Olofsson).
  • We have two 3rd-liners who aren't top six offensively or defensively, but who are trustworthy and high-effort, with moderate skill in Eakin and Okposo. 
  • We have two defensively responsible 4th-liners who can PK, one of whom can grind and the other who can fly in Lazar and Reider.
  • We have Zemgus who falls somewhere between the two previous pairs
  • And we have two big, promising, offensively gifted kids who we aren't sure of how much they are ready to contribute in Thompson and Cozens

A lot of those guys are versatile enough to play multiple positions. It's a reasonably good mix of skill and will and size and speed and youth and experience. Most of the mock lineups seem to have potential.

Ralph has pieces. I'm eager to see how he can put them together.

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26 minutes ago, dudacek said:

There are just so many variables with this forward group.

  • We have two legitimate drivers who can play with anyone: Hall and Eichel
  • We have two well-rounded top-six forwards who can support elite players and elevate middle-six players in Staal and Reinhart
  • We have two 30-goal finishers, both of whom need defensive support, one of whom thrives in chaos (Skinner), the other in structure (Olofsson).
  • We have two 3rd-liners who aren't top six offensively or defensively, but who are trustworthy and high-effort, with moderate skill in Eakin and Okposo. 
  • We have two defensively responsible 4th-liners who can PK, one of whom can grind and the other who can fly in Lazar and Reider.
  • We have Zemgus who falls somewhere between the two previous pairs
  • And we have two big, promising, offensively gifted kids who we aren't sure of how much they are ready to contribute in Thompson and Cozens

A lot of those guys are versatile enough to play multiple positions. It's a reasonably good mix of skill and will and size and speed and youth and experience. Most of the mock lineups seem to have potential.

Ralph has pieces. I'm eager to see how he can put them together.

That's the real question.  Ralph failed in that department last season in how he handled Skinner.  Not completely his fault do to our lack of center, however Reinhart can be a driver of offense and he refused to create a Skinner Reinhart line to see if he could get Skinner going.  

Also an aside about Thompson vs Mitts

Thompson

NHL 107gms 10g 11a 21 pts = .2 pts/gp

AHL 70gms 21g 20a 41 pts = .59 pts/gp

Mittetstadt

NHL 114 gms 17g 22a 39 pts = .34 pts/gp

AHL  36 gms  9a 16a 25 pts = .69 pts/gp

 

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50 minutes ago, Thorny said:

I guess it comes down to the prism you want to view the numbers through. 

Bold sounds pretty good, but another way of looking at it is, he's failed to exceed 27 points in 3 of the last 4 years (12, 27, 41, 15) averaging 24 points over that span. Prorating for the lockout and leaving out his 30 game rookie year like I believe you did in the analysis, he averaged 38 points over the 4 years previous. 

So it's more like a tale of two halves, with a significant tail-off in the most recent 4 years save that one outlier. It's not a great trend, that's not to say he can't buck it, but it must be bucked. 

Yup.

I honestly think there's a reasonable chance Eichel and Hall don't mesh the way we'd want them to - it's never a sure thing, even (and sometimes especially) with star players. If that's the case, the first thing I'd try is simply switching Hall and Skinner, if VO is in the top 6 I think I want him with Eichel. Eichel is a great player and he's going to have another great (or very good) one on his left, Hall or Skinner. I want line 2 to have 2 as well, and Staal to me doesn't qualify. So I'm looking for Staal to be complemented with 2 solid ES wingers. Additionally, I have an aversion to all left-shot or all right-shot lines. 

Skinner - Eichel - Olofsson

Hall - Staal - Reinhart

...again, we could be looking at an elite top 6 and a second line among (at the top?) of the league's best. I'm all for loading up line 2 and letting MVP Jack run along on line 1 with one strong, complimentary player, and a gizmo player on the other side (VO). 

Eichel's passing is maximized with 2 finishers, and I don't think that line set-up prevents him from getting his shots, either. Set up VO as a threat and he draws coverage and opens shooting lanes for JE, and Skinner's scoring wheelhouse is off rebounds anyways, so Jack is going to have to get pucks to the doorstep.

It's absolutely possible that Eichel & Hall won't gel, but they get at least 10 games to find chemistry because any chemistry at all makes that line deadly regardless of the 3rd piece.

Have said this multiple times, but the keys to this are optimizing the overall points from the forwards & maximizing your best player goes a long way towards that.  Giving Eichel Hall should optimize him as he's sound in his own end and excellent in transition & offensively. Teams can't cheat towards Jack nor Tyler because the other can kill them on his own.  While both Eichel & Hall can finish, they both are also playmakers primarily, so want a finisher to complement them rather than another playmaker in Reinhart.

Really expect that Eichel & Hall will end up when all is said & done pretty close pointwise whether they have Skinner or Olofsson on their wing but Olofsson will have a far greater increase by playing with them than Jeff would.  Victor IMHO IS a top 6 winger absolutely with Eichel, but might not be with Staal & really doubt he would be w/ Eakin & either Thompson or Cozens.  

Vic can score from a wider range of areas than Skinner can and expect that will also work well with Hall's & Jack's creativity.  Olofsson working there adds so much flexibility in the rest of the deployments, it's truly fun to contemplate.

Like the idea of Staal & Reinhart playing together & expect Skinner will thrive w/ those 2.

If Cozens (or Thompson) forces his way into the top 6, it's a good problem to have & IMHO would be a great opportunity for Reinhart to demonstrate that he can drive a line as we could see Krueger slide him down 1 slot & give the Sabres the potential for a 3rd line that could truly capitalize on mismatches.

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46 minutes ago, Taro T said:

It's absolutely possible that Eichel & Hall won't gel, but they get at least 10 games to find chemistry because any chemistry at all makes that line deadly regardless of the 3rd piece.

Have said this multiple times, but the keys to this are optimizing the overall points from the forwards & maximizing your best player goes a long way towards that.  Giving Eichel Hall should optimize him as he's sound in his own end and excellent in transition & offensively. Teams can't cheat towards Jack nor Tyler because the other can kill them on his own.  While both Eichel & Hall can finish, they both are also playmakers primarily, so want a finisher to complement them rather than another playmaker in Reinhart.

Really expect that Eichel & Hall will end up when all is said & done pretty close pointwise whether they have Skinner or Olofsson on their wing but Olofsson will have a far greater increase by playing with them than Jeff would.  Victor IMHO IS a top 6 winger absolutely with Eichel, but might not be with Staal & really doubt he would be w/ Eakin & either Thompson or Cozens.  

Vic can score from a wider range of areas than Skinner can and expect that will also work well with Hall's & Jack's creativity.  Olofsson working there adds so much flexibility in the rest of the deployments, it's truly fun to contemplate.

Like the idea of Staal & Reinhart playing together & expect Skinner will thrive w/ those 2.

If Cozens (or Thompson) forces his way into the top 6, it's a good problem to have & IMHO would be a great opportunity for Reinhart to demonstrate that he can drive a line as we could see Krueger slide him down 1 slot & give the Sabres the potential for a 3rd line that could truly capitalize on mismatches.

Ya, we are seeing the lines pretty much exactly the same way. 

Also, I know VO has played on the right and I don't think Skinner has. 

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24 minutes ago, Thorny said:

Ya, we are seeing the lines pretty much exactly the same way. 

Also, I know VO has played on the right and I don't think Skinner has. 

Don't believe Skinner has ever played the right side, but expect he could as he often sets up to the goalie's left looking for that rebound.  Plus with his figure/power skating background, he can definitely open up his stance & still be effective.  Playing his off-wing shouldn't negatively affect him but no need to swap him to the off-side when he should fit in well w/ Staal & Reinhart.  Looking forward to that Snake Line.  Sss.

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2 hours ago, dudacek said:

There are just so many variables with this forward group.

  • We have two legitimate drivers who can play with anyone: Hall and Eichel
  • We have two well-rounded top-six forwards who can support elite players and elevate middle-six players in Staal and Reinhart
  • We have two 30-goal finishers, both of whom need defensive support, one of whom thrives in chaos (Skinner), the other in structure (Olofsson).
  • We have two 3rd-liners who aren't top six offensively or defensively, but who are trustworthy and high-effort, with moderate skill in Eakin and Okposo. 
  • We have two defensively responsible 4th-liners who can PK, one of whom can grind and the other who can fly in Lazar and Reider.
  • We have Zemgus who falls somewhere between the two previous pairs
  • And we have two big, promising, offensively gifted kids who we aren't sure of how much they are ready to contribute in Thompson and Cozens

A lot of those guys are versatile enough to play multiple positions. It's a reasonably good mix of skill and will and size and speed and youth and experience. Most of the mock lineups seem to have potential.

Ralph has pieces. I'm eager to see how he can put them together.

Looking at some of the names that you listed Krueger has a pool of players to assemble two good PP units. If Jack and Hall are on the ice at the end of a shift and a penalty is called the second unit can start on the PP allowing the members of the first PP unit to catch their breath and refresh themselves before jumping back on the ice to finish the PP. With shooters like Jack, Hall, Oloffson, Skinner and Reinhart etc. there is enough quantity to staff two potent PP units. We have the shooters. What we need is better net presence to obstruct the goalies and be in position to deflect more shots. 

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7 hours ago, Thorny said:

 

I honestly think there's a reasonable chance Eichel and Hall don't mesh the way we'd want them to - it's never a sure thing, even (and sometimes especially) with star players. If that's the case, the first thing I'd try is simply switching Hall and Skinner, if VO is in the top 6 I think I want him with Eichel. Eichel is a great player and he's going to have another great (or very good) one on his left, Hall or Skinner. I want line 2 to have 2 as well, and Staal to me doesn't qualify. So I'm looking for Staal to be complemented with 2 solid ES wingers. Additionally, I have an aversion to all left-shot or all right-shot lines. 

Skinner - Eichel - Olofsson

Hall - Staal - Reinhart

...again, we could be looking at an elite top 6 and a second line among (at the top?) of the league's best. I'm all for loading up line 2 and letting MVP Jack run along on line 1 with one strong, complimentary player, and a gizmo player on the other side (VO). 

Eichel's passing is maximized with 2 finishers, and I don't think that line set-up prevents him from getting his shots, either. Set up VO as a threat and he draws coverage and opens shooting lanes for JE, and Skinner's scoring wheelhouse is off rebounds anyways, so Jack is going to have to get pucks to the doorstep.

I too would like to see this top 6, but I think Hall will be stapled to Jack unless they really struggle.  I think they want it to work and for Hall to be happy and sign an extension.

 

6 hours ago, dudacek said:

There are just so many variables with this forward group.

  • We have two legitimate drivers who can play with anyone: Hall and Eichel
  • We have two well-rounded top-six forwards who can support elite players and elevate middle-six players in Staal and Reinhart
  • We have two 30-goal finishers, both of whom need defensive support, one of whom thrives in chaos (Skinner), the other in structure (Olofsson).
  • We have two 3rd-liners who aren't top six offensively or defensively, but who are trustworthy and high-effort, with moderate skill in Eakin and Okposo. 
  • We have two defensively responsible 4th-liners who can PK, one of whom can grind and the other who can fly in Lazar and Reider.
  • We have Zemgus who falls somewhere between the two previous pairs
  • And we have two big, promising, offensively gifted kids who we aren't sure of how much they are ready to contribute in Thompson and Cozens

A lot of those guys are versatile enough to play multiple positions. It's a reasonably good mix of skill and will and size and speed and youth and experience. Most of the mock lineups seem to have potential.

Ralph has pieces. I'm eager to see how he can put them together.

I agree with all of this, but I think both of these 2 are really fast, not just one of them.

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On 11/25/2020 at 5:38 PM, GASabresIUFAN said:

I tend not to write off 21 year old kids.  He hasn’t underachieved.  We had unrealistic expectations for a 20 year old forced into the NHL.   Thompson went through a similar development curve and is now primed to have a full time NHL roster spot.  Casey is also more talented then Thompson.  People here seem to only think that Casey is the lost player who failed last year and that is all he’ll ever be, while ignoring all the good work he did in Rochester.  

Many of these same people fawned over Larsson because he finally developed into a decent NHL player at 26, yet his best offensive season is 18 pts.  That’s 7 pts worse then Casey did in the NHL as a 20 year old. 

This kid has so much more to give, he just needs the right opportunity.

I, like you, don't believe that Mitts is a lost cause. As you have rightly often stated that Casey is still a very young player who has room to grow. I thought entering this season the best approach toward Mitts was to start him at Rochester and give him a lot of playing time in expanded roles.  That added playing time would better prepare him for the hopeful call up to the big league. The delay or even the cancellation of the AHL maybe has precluded that option. If Mitts comes into camp in impeccable shape and through his play earns a spot on the roster then I would not only be surprised but also very happy for him. In my opinion he has received more vilification than he deserves. 

Where I disagree with you is in your comparison of Casey to Thompson. I think that especially after this offseason where through hard work and the process of natural physical development he will be in a better position than Casey to establish himself this season. Thompson like Casey was a first round selection. It has taken him some time to physically develop in order to endure the rigors of the NHL. What he and Mitts have in common is that to their detriment they were both rushed. Right now I believe that Thompson is ahead of Casey as a player ready to establish himself in the league. Entering the season I'm counting more on Thompson than Casey. 

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